Address to Civil Authorities and the Diplomatic Corps
La Moneda Palace, Santiago
16 January 2018
Yours is a great and exciting challenge: to continue working to make this democracy, as your forebears dreamed, beyond its formal aspects, a true place of encounter for all. To make it a place where everyone, without exception, feels called to join in building a house, a family and a nation. A place, a house and a family called Chile: generous and welcoming, enamoured of her history, committed to social harmony in the present, and looking forward with hope to the future. Here we do well to recall the words of Saint Alberto Hurtado: “A nation, more than its borders, more than its land, its mountain ranges, its seas, more than its language or its traditions, is a mission to be fulfilled”. It is a future. And that future depends in large part on the ability of its people and leaders to listen.
The ability to listen proves most important in this nation, whose ethnic, cultural and historical diversity must be preserved from all partisan spirit or attempts at domination, and inspire instead our innate ability to replace narrow ideologies with a healthy concern for the common good (which without being communitarian will never be a good). It is necessary to listen: to listen to the unemployed, who cannot support the present, much less the future of their families. To listen to the native peoples, often forgotten, whose rights and culture need to be protected lest that part of this nation’s identity and richness be lost. To listen to the migrants who knock on the doors of this country in search of a better life, but also with the strength and the hope of helping to build a better future for all. To listen to young people and their desire for greater opportunities, especially in education, so that they can take active part in building the Chile they dream of, while at the same time shielding them from the scourge of drugs that rob the best part of their lives. To listen to the elderly with their much-needed wisdom and their particular needs. We cannot abandon them. To listen to children who look out on the world with eyes full of amazement and innocence, and expect from us concrete answers for a dignified future. Here I feel bound to express my pain and shame, shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church. I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again.
With this ability to listen, we are invited – especially today – to give preferential attention to our common home. To listen to our common home: to foster a culture that can care for the earth, and thus is not content with merely responding to grave ecological and environmental problems as they arise. This calls for boldly adopting “a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm” that allows powerful economic interests to prevail over natural ecosystems and, as a result, the common good of our peoples. The wisdom of the native peoples can contribute greatly to this. From them we can learn that a people that turns its back on the land, and everything and everyone on it, will never experience real development. Chile’s possesses a deep-rooted wisdom capable of helping to transcend a merely consumerist view of life and to adopt a sage attitude to the future.
The Chilean soul – the President said that it is a little distrusting – the Chilean soul is a vocation to being, a stubborn will to exist. It is a vocation to which all are summoned, and from which no one should feel excluded or unneeded. A vocation that demands a radical option for life, especially in all those forms in which it is threatened.
I thank you once more for the invitation to come among you and to encounter the soul of this people. I pray that Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mother and Queen of Chile, will continue to accompany and bring to birth the dreams of this blessed nation. Thank you!
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